Don’t know where to go? Here’s the ultimate insider vacation guide

Words by Deep Kalra

Summer is over, and the Covid-19 pandemic shows no sign of fading. Vacationing without worry is still not feasible, yet we can’t stop thinking about where to go when all this over. To help us with this dilemma, here is a list of Deep Kalra’s favourite holiday destinations. Rest assured, there couldn’t be a better guide to suggest where you should go, because Kalra knows travel like the back of his hand.

Disclaimer: I am a big believer that travel helps people and families bond. Also, it is a great leveller. It opens up your mind, enriches your life and makes (almost) everyone a good storyteller! What I don’t particularly like is when some experiences or destinations tend to get priced out of the reach of the majority. In fact, MakeMyTrip was conceptualized with an idea of democratizing travel in India – take control from the agent and empower the traveller with choice and transparency. With that principle as a baseline, this list comprises not the most exotic or exclusive, but the most diverse set of experiences I could think of!

Ladakh: I love exploring mountains. A few years ago, my entire family- parents, siblings and kids went on a holiday to Ladakh. It wasn’t laid back by any standard but we all enjoyed it thoroughly! Ladakh, Shillong and Tawang are destinations in India that all nature-lovers must explore.

Maldives: I usually take one or two holidays a year that are devoted to doing fun things with the family. We enjoy getting out in the open and having an active vacation. With kids, I think the Maldives is the best destination to visit. There are so many water-sports to indulge in, like Scuba diving, surfing, snorkelling, night-fishing, water-skiing, water polo, canoeing, parasailing, and banana boat rides. Adventure aficionados just cannot miss the opportunity to experience the world’s largest deep diving passenger submarine. The not-so-adventurous folks can go whale watching and check out dolphin shows. Scrumptious Maldivian food, luxurious spas and your very own private water bungalow make a holiday to the Maldives a very pampering break! Deep blue sea, turquoise reefs, white sandy beaches, palm trees and a cocktail… the Maldives is the ideal holiday destination to unwind and relax (and my absolute favourite)!

New Zealand: While it requires some planning, a visit to New Zealand will be well worth the effort. The diversity of experiences and contrast between the two islands is remarkable. North Island is more cosmopolitan and you can enjoy its hot pools, thermal geysers and warmer climate. South Island on the other hand offers stunning scenery with ski-ranges and beautiful alpine drives. Kids will love the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Te Puia thermal reserve with boiling mud pools and roaring geysers, and the beautiful countryside. Those craving adventures can try skydiving from 12000 feet! The cruise ride in the Milford Sound fjord is also enjoyable. If one has the time, a self-drive holiday is the best way to explore the country.

Portugal: This is for those looking to go on a laid-back holiday– since most of the interesting spots in Portugal can be covered while being stationed at a single hotel in Lisbon. The country offers amazing sights and natural beauty, along with some of the most unique places in the world. A day-trip to Estoril coast, the village of Sintra (the Royal Family’s summer getaway) and the picturesque Boca do Inferno cliffs help the traveller familiarize themselves with Portugal’s culture and countryside. Cabo da Roca in the Sintra Mountain Range is the westernmost point in continental Europe. Along the coast, ahead of the Guincho beach, is the Boca do Inferno – a grotto created by the rain and sea erosion. Visit the north of Lisbon as a day trip to check out Nazare, a colourful Portuguese fishing village, and Batalha Monastery, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture that has also been declared a UNESCO heritage site.

Turkey: A unique country, which is Asian in hospitality and European in vibe. Turkey is a great mix of culture and heritage amalgamated with a cosmopolitan lifestyle. One can easily set aside a week to explore Istanbul and Bursa. Stay on the European side, a little away from Taksim square which can be noisy and chaotic. Visit the Blue Mosque, Spice Market, and take a Bosphorus river cruise in the evening. Local food is very similar to northwest frontier cuisine. The weather is nice, the sights are beautiful and there is a lot to do, including bargain hunting. Take the ferry to Bursa, visit ancient original Turkish Baths and old forts. A popular spot is the old jail that is now a great shopping-spot for clothes and jewellery and also has a nice coffee shop.
Each one of us has a wandering heart with many latent travel desires and at MakeMyTrip, we encourage people to listen to their heart. Travel, discover and keep exploring…Kyun Ki Dil Toh Roaming Hai!

About the Author
Deep Kalra is the founder of MakeMyTrip (MMT), India’s largest online travel operator. He is the pioneer of online travel in India. He founded MMT in 2000, it was amongst the earliest Indian consumer Internet companies to go public and made a $70 million debut on the Nasdaq stock exchange in 2010. Kalra was also instrumental in acquiring MMT’s closest rival, Ibibo Group, in 2017. This move created an online travel giant that controls 60%-70% of the Indian online travel market. In addition to this, Kalra is one of the founders of the reputed Ashoka University[7] and is a part of its governing body.


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